PRINT December 2022



To take stock of the past year, Artforum asked an international group of artists to select a single exhibition or event that most memorably caught their attention in 2022.

Rhea Dillon, broken, smacked and smothered., 2022, sapele mahogany, oil stick on paper, 37 1⁄2 × 49 1⁄4 × 9 1⁄4".

Rhea Dillon (Gladstone Gallery, New York)
I avoid openings. The neglect of the art that can occur is too painful. Yet there I was, staring at this object leaning tenderly against the wall, its wood grain perfectly exposed. African mahogany. A drawer. A frame. The spade with “hearts.” The work has such an intellectual and formal elegance that it quieted the entire room. Through Dillon’s stealth use of iconography, diasporic history expands. I haven’t been moved by a work like this in years. Three days after the opening, I spoke about the work at length during my therapy session.

Dan Perjovschi, Horizontal Newspaper (detail), 2022, ink on asphalt. Installation view, Rainer-Dierichs-Platz, Kassel.

Documenta 15 (Kassel)
Long before Documenta 15 opened, Ruangrupa’s curatorial vision had been broadly reviled by a loose coalition of right-wing agitators, conservative politicians, neoliberal apologists, clickbait journos, and art-world influencers who made it their collective mission to sabotage the exhibition—at times literally. What was it that made this edition so utterly threatening to so many different constituencies? Was it the exhibition’s nonchalant sweeping aside of “the art system,” its prioritization of non-predatory collective and collaborative practices, its refusal to pander to the elite coterie of decision-makers and power players that usually benefits most from the extreme visibility of the mega-show? Or was it Ruangrupa’s outright disdain for the inflated art products held dear at the top of the market—the curatorial collective’s complete lack of interest in entertaining categories such as “artistic autonomy” and “individual genius”—that got so many so hot under the collar? Might the tsunami of anxiety and defensiveness that this edition unleashed perhaps be explained by its insistent shifting of agency to the Global South, its joyful validation of liberatory practices that many in the Global North prefer to dismiss? Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, the disruptive force of Documenta 15—its throwing into question of what art can do (and for whom), along with its pointed and multivalent challenge to business as usual—made it every bit as groundbreaking and future-shaping as Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11 of twenty years ago. Long live lumbung.

Winslow Homer, The Fog Warning (Halibut Fishing), 1885, oil on canvas, 30 1⁄4 × 48 1⁄2".

Winslow Homer (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
In spite of the life-threatening spectacle and impending doom that characterize most of Winslow Homer’s work, the figures in his paintings are depicted in a resolutely undramatic fashion. Never do they display extreme agitation; we find no look of shock and awe, no flailing limbs, no wringing hands. Instead, we often find them staring, their gazes fixed on a point outside of the painting’s parameters. Homer thoroughly embeds his figures in his compositions’ rigorous formal structures; however, these individuals don’t always cooperate with the narrative flow. The resulting ambivalence deepens the paintings’ enigmas.

Shadi Habib Allah, M1, 2022, HD video, color, four-channel sound, 15 minutes.

Shadi Habib Allah (Lofoten International Art Festival, Norway)
Shadi Habib Allah has given us a body of work that is absorbed by the ways in which electromagnetic, electronic, and radiophonic transmissions amplify but also surpass juridical and political boundaries. With M1, 2022, he expands his thesis into an exploration of the electromagnetic governance of wolves in Sweden. The central component is a sound piece that brings together a network of voices that circle around a former Ericsson engineer who developed electro-hypersensitivity, a type of allergy to radio frequency. His condition forces him to live way up north beyond the electromagnetic orbit, but he still becomes triggered by the GPS emissions from nearby wolves (tagged for conservation purposes). An accompanying multichannel video adds a layer of tactility: Blades of grass, fluffs of snow, and the brush of hair sway in consonance with the sound to allow us to inhabit the line between technological and so-called “natural” environments.

Nicole Eisenman, Tail End, 2022, oil on linen, 10' 8" × 8' 9".

Nicole Eisenman (Hauser & Wirth, New York)

This was the first show I saw last spring after many months of working nonstop on my own. It blew my mind—Eisenman is fearlessly inventive, a masterful technician, and often very funny. I loved the paintings most of all, though the lumpy sculpture Maker’s Muck, 2022, ran a close second. Human calamities, ambiguous narratives, psychological weirdness, goofy tenderness, otherworldly moments, some politics, and cats. Lots of cats. I had no clue what it all meant, which is why I liked it. Inexplicable, yet endearingly familiar.

Camille Claudel, La Vague (The Wave), 1897–1903, onyx marble, bronze, 24 3⁄8 × 22 × 19 3⁄4".

Camille Claudel (Musée Rodin, Paris)
The most compelling work I saw this past year also happens to be one of my favorite pieces of all time: La Vague (The Wave), 1897–1903, a sculpture of bronze and onyx marble by Camille Claudel, never ceases to haunt me. It is the meeting of two materials, two thoughts. It is a materialization of the idea of liquidity in stone, as well as a negative dramaturgy of the rocks of the coast where I grew up, which I imagine being sculpted by these same waves, this same agitated and powerful sea. The careful eye is struck by the group of female bronze miniatures floating on the swell, who appear to engage in joyful, osmotic communion with nature. And yet the bond that unites them is more powerful than the wave. This is a group of women who stand against the elements, much like Claudel herself.

Suzanne Bocanegra, Honor, 2022. Performance view, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, April 29, 2022. Suzanne Bocanegra and Lili Taylor. Photo: Elon Schoenholz.

Suzanne Bocanegra (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)
One of the most surprising and moving works I saw this year was Bocanegra’s Honor. The actor Lili Taylor plays the artist onstage, leaving Bocanegra literally lurking in the shadowy corners. Bocanegra whispers lines from her lecture about a sixteenth-century tapestry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection named “Honor” into a mic; her words are sent to an earpiece worn by Taylor, who then recites them for the audience. I laughed, I cried—I learned so much. The performance is tender and obsessive, acoustic and forensic, so deeply personal—familiar terrain for any artist. I was instantly won over by Bocanegra’s universe, which seamlessly shifts between the massive scale of history and the intimacy of her own heart. I am always moved by work that says to me, “Yes, we can go here, too.” Honor is now on that list. These questions of what it means to perform and profess in a field obsessed with the image of the artist are so difficult, and it was thrilling to see someone really swinging for the rafters. Celebrity! Visibility! Women of a certain age! I loved this shit!

Beauford Delaney, James Baldwin, ca. 1945–50, oil on canvasboard, 24 × 18". © Estate of Beauford Delaney by permission of Derek L. Spratley.

Beauford Delaney (Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York)
Sometimes it really is best to be in another country—for the self and for the work. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Beauford Delaney eventually moved to New York, where he established himself as a painter and became James Baldwin’s spiritual father, before eventually ending up in Paris. At Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, you could see how his explorations of abstraction—mostly through portraiture—create an argument for universal simultaneity through color. Imagine paintings doing all that. They overpowered me in their movements: the lightness inside pupils, the draping of a dress in nine perfectly varied lines, the pull toward crossed legs. I have closed my eyes and seen this show too many times to count.

Michèle Graf and Selina Grüter, Clock Work, 2022, painted clock parts and hardware, electronics, 7 3⁄4 × 4 1⁄2 × 4".

Michèle Graf and Selina Grüter (Kevin Space, Vienna)
“Clock Work” features four kinetic objects made from clock and hardware elements painted in vintage colors. The sculptures are jolted into movement by signals coming from a sensor attached to a bridge outside, which is triggered by passing trains. Each sculpture translates this impulse differently—some through a neurotic twirling and tapping, and others through motions barely visible—culminating in a cacophony of gestures that don’t seem to serve any instrumental purpose. Funny and engaging, this show addresses the neurosis of keeping time, a particular kind of anxiety by which I myself tend to be consistently afflicted.

Per Kirkeby, Untitled, 2005, tempera on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 118".

Per Kirkeby (Michael Werner Gallery, New York)
Per Kirkeby’s exhibition “Geological Messages” was my favorite show of the year. His paintings reward the viewer with electric color, active surface, uneven gloss, and energetic mark-making. The abstraction of paint becomes counterpart to the abstraction of geological processes. The line work recalls stratigraphic drawings, done in real time and with a distinctly calligraphic quality. The paintings are beautiful, and it is easy to get lost within many moments in each of these works, but what terrible beauties they are! For geology is a tragic subject surpassing human scale, revealing the pitfalls of our efforts to perceive the urgency, drama, and eldritch nature of the earth and the forces that act upon it. We need only to look within contemporary political paradigms to understand this all too well. The paintings remind us that to inhabit a desert, for example, is to bear witness to a catastrophe in slow motion. I immediately rushed to the studio after seeing this show.

Jasmine Gregory, Investment Piece (2), 2022, oil on linen, 35 1⁄2 × 27 1⁄2".

Jasmine Gregory (King’s Leap, New York)
Jasmine Gregory’s show “Heirlooms” was a harbinger of a new tradition—US artists working in and through a counter-appropriation of European heritage. Her sardonically chic paintings and sculptures punch through to the clinical vortex of Swiss advertising and the moral craters of American hustle and gonzo consumption. Gregory’s deftly painted abstractions are tinged with sensitivity and, with respect to color and composition, charged with a turbulent urgency that could rival the works of Albert Oehlen. Additionally, the artist presents actual heirlooms—borrowed from A. M. Thorne, a DC- and NYC-based jewelry designer—that in this setting read as ironic familial inversions, offsetting the coolness of Gregory’s noetic father/son portraits, which replicate, while partially erasing, Patek Philippe wristwatch advertisements. The show was capped by an elegant, straight-from-the-dry-cleaner, cling-wrap-clad sculpture that gestured toward new perspectives on grace, luxury, and artistic agility.

Sharon Lockhart, Eventide, 2022, 4K video, color, sound, 34 minutes 32 seconds.

Sharon Lockhart (REDCAT, Los Angeles)
Watching Sharon Lockhart’s film Eventide, I kept thinking of this French expression for dusk: entre chien et loup (between dog and wolf), when the contrast between light and shadow flattens and you are not sure which animal is in front of you, in the half light. It felt so much like the world now, something in-between, darkening.

Women are moving throughout the landscape like detectives searching for a corpse or clues, holding flashlights that become brighter as stars appear. They seem related to one another, constellating on the ground.

The film feels at once immense and unifying, like the best science fiction, when it makes you look at everything from a farther, wiser, more all-encompassing point of view.

Stéphane Mandelbaum, Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1980, ballpoint pen, 20 1⁄8 × 26 3⁄4".

Stéphane Mandelbaum (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt)
Beautifully curated by Susanne Pfeffer, Stéphane Mandelbaum’s retrospective features over one hundred drawings, the majority of them portraits, which are hung on gallery walls starkly painted in vibrant shades of orange, green, and black. The intricate portraits, spanning the ten years of his brief creative period, struck me as raw, brutal, and intimate. Drawn with ballpoint pen, graphite, oil, and ink, his subjects include historical figures such as Francis Bacon, Joseph Goebbels, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, but also Mandelbaum’s own family. One small drawing of Arthur Rimbaud from 1980 especially impressed me—utterly mundane, and yet able to perfectly capture the essence of what otherwise is better left unsaid.

Every Ocean Hughes, Help the Dead, 2019. Performance view, Eric Ericsonhallen, Stockholm, March 19, 2022. Center: Rolf Backman. Photo: Nadja Sjöström.

Every Ocean Hughes (Moderna Museet, Stockholm)
I had the privilege to attend Every Ocean Hughes’s performance Help the Dead, 2019, a meditation on “queer death” inspired by the artist’s training caring for dead bodies and conducting home funerals as a death doula. Led by performers Colin Self and Geo Wyeth, this live concert/participatory theater/spiritual gathering offered a timely, collective contemplation of all those unanswered questions accumulated over the pandemic, questions regarding mortality and the transitions of our bodies and our communities. They represent a huge blind spot within contemporary art and media right now, and Hughes’s probing into our fantasies of continuity and accountability—of surviving on our planet—opened pathways of insight and assurance for me.

Jessi Reaves, An Unnatural Act (Slipper Chair), 2022, metal, wood, fabric, 36 × 53 × 37".

Jessi Reaves (Bridget Donahue, New York)
An unassuming confidence guides Jessi Reaves’s swift, surreal impulses. Bad Apartment Shelf and An Unnatural Act, both 2022, evoke the Tim Burton films we were probably both exposed to at an impressionable age, during a time when patches and duct tape were rendered memento mori. These sculptures have come out on the other side of 1990s goth solipsism, loving themselves with a pulsing, generous joie de faire that can be hard to find in contemporary art. (I can’t be the only artist made stroppy over this dearth.) The exhibition “Jessi Reeves: At the well,” a brilliant salve, felt as influential as the artist’s 2016 breakout.

View of “Hamid Shams: Peacock’s Excuse,” 2022, Pejman Foundation, Tehran.

Hamid Shams (Pejman Foundation, Tehran)
For “Peacock’s Excuse,” a reinterpretation of the poet Farid al-Din Attar’s twelfth-century masterpiece, The Conference of the Birds, Hamid Shams led viewers through a labyrinth of quiet horror and forbidden desire. In Pejman Foundation’s Kandovan building in downtown Tehran, darkened rooms—containing a black fountain, a pair of chairs, a bed, and chains hanging from the ceiling—evoked Persian miniatures, but spare and without people. Hoping to rediscover Attar’s Valley of Unity, this subtle exhibition instead found meaning in the joy of risk in a land of deepening uncertainty and suppression.

View of “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” 2021–22, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror” (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York)
“Eh, let’s be quick,” I scoffed to a friend as we walked into the museum. And what I encountered made my mind and heart break, as if I’d never seen Johns’s art before. The show was ingeniously designed and mirrored its subject beautifully—a man who used mirrors to create experiments in thought and form, and who asked fundamental questions regarding image and essence. Johns deftly examines the relationships between the object and its representation and is one of those rare painters who doesn’t just make paintings, but makes artworks.

Carlos Villa, Mask-Unmask, 1977, airbrushed acrylic and feathers on unstretched canvas, 77 × 54 1⁄2 × 8". © Estate of Carlos Villa.

Carlos Villa (Asian Art Museum, San Francisco)
Carlos Villa (1936–2013) was a Bay Area artist who taught for many years at San Francisco Art Institute, where I was once a student. He was an important mentor and teacher of mine; I also grew up among his work, which hung on the walls of my father’s house.

Villa’s work was closely tied to the question of what it meant to be a Filipino artist laboring within a Western canon. “Worlds in Collision,” his show this year at the Asian Art Museum, featured an incredible selection of Carlos’s feathered capes, papier-mâché sculptures, and beautiful photocollages. The feathered capes in particular are fantastic objects—spiritual, cathartic, powerful, and mysterious. For me, they are reminders of Carlos talking to me about the importance of creativity, of working from the heart always, and of the immediate connection we as artists have to the physical world through what we make.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, 97 3⁄8 × 81 3⁄4". © Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko–ADAGP, Paris.

Monet/Rothko (Musée Giverny, France)
I have never seen a more beautiful exhibition. There were six late works by each artist. If I hadn’t known they were late works I would have guessed because of the absolute authority and freedom. Monet’s paintings flickered with light and life and brilliant color; the scale varied. Rothko’s paintings were saturated with color yet appeared dark; they were all of a similarly large scale. The dozen canvases were interwoven in the hang so it was like walking through an enchanted forest of dark trees and scattered sunlight.

Visitor experiencing Meiro Koizumi’s 2019 Prometheus Bound, Cultural Station, Seoul, 2021. Photo: Park Suhwan.

“Virtual Station” (Culture Station Seoul 284, Seoul)
This unprecedented show—half group exhibition, half theater festival—left the massive historic Old Seoul Station literally empty. Yet like ghosts in the air, another topological layer existed just at the edges of perception: the restless traffic of wireless signals. The space was filled with virtual-reality installations and performances that were only accessible at appointed times. Koizumi Meiro’s Prometheus Bound, 2019, mixed virtual- and augmented-reality technologies to consider the desire and delirium of someone suffering from ALS. Art critic and artist Seo Hyun-suk’s VR work (     ), 2021, interrogated the very idea of gravity against the backdrop of a flamboyant velvet-curtained hall. Telepresence, or the sense of existing in many places simultaneously, is now a universal condition of contemporary life.

Daniel Hawkins, Desert Lighthouse, 2017–, structural steel, semitranslucent polycarbonate panels, Fresnel beacon, internal LED lighting, off-grid solar-powered electrical system, cast-aluminum capstone. Installation view, Mojave Desert, CA.

Daniel Hawkins (Mojave Desert, California)
Daniel Hawkins has raised a fully operational lighthouse in the windswept desert near Hinkley, California. Yet his Desert Lighthouse, 2017–, has been renamed “Stargate Hinkley” by an apocalyptic group who believe it’s an intergalactic portal. Others claim it’s a beacon for UFOs. Some assert that climate change will raise the sea level up to the ground the building stands on, creating a new shoreline. An adjoining makeshift graveyard is strewn in ashes and plastic flowers. Hinkley remains a ghost town since the San Francisco–based Pacific Gas and Electric Company dumped the carcinogen hexavalent chromium into its groundwater. In 1996, with the help of Erin Brockovich, PG&E was ordered to pay $333 million in damages to the town’s residents—at that time, the largest settlement for a direct-action lawsuit in US history.

Audience members at Catherine Christer Hennix’s performance, 99 Scott, Brooklyn, NY, July 14, 2022. Photo: Marissa Alper.

Catherine Christer Hennix (Blank Forms, Brooklyn, New York)
This summer, I was invited to sit in on a rehearsal for the venerable Swedish artist-mathematician-musician-composer-poet Catherine Christer Hennix and a pared-down version of her Kamigaku Ensemble. I arrived at Blank Forms to find Hennix gently cradling a shō (a Japanese free-reed mouth organ) over a small electric heater—necessary, she explained, to keep the instrument functioning and in tune. Hennix’s organ, Ellen Arkbro’s closely miked trumpet, and Marcus Pal’s computer-generated bass all seemed to merge into a single sustained pulse. Arkbro later confessed that she was so immersed in the intermingling tones that she occasionally lost track of which sounds she was making. A perfect model for . . . lots of things.

View of the Robert L. McNeil Jr. New Early American Galleries, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021. From left: Thomas Affleck, card table, 1770–71; Charles Willson Peale, Portrait of John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader and Their Daughter Anne, 1772; Benjamin Randolph, chair, ca. 1770. Photo: Joseph Hu.

The Robert L. McNeil Jr. New Early American Galleries (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
In 2021, Kathleen A. Foster and a team of academics rehung the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Early American galleries. I went twice in a week. Viewers are no longer left to wonder: Who are these sickly white people in the paintings? And how did they make their money? The wall texts are candid about the involvement of many sitters in the global slave trade; the euphemism “successful merchant” has been banished. They also acknowledge, when possible, the artisanship of enslaved people who produced artworks and furniture. As a kid, I was taught to revere late-colonial American portraits simply because they were old, so it’s exciting to think about young viewers who get to see them presented with tact, context, and complexity.

Angela Davis speaking at Melafestival, Saga Cinema, Oslo, August 11, 2022. Photo: David D. Brandt.

Angela Davis (Melafestival, Oslo)
Angela Davis kicked off this year’s edition of Melafestival with a packed lecture at Oslo’s Saga Kino. This was Davis’s first trip to Norway since 1974, when she was accompanied by a young unknown writer named Toni Morrison. As I listened to Davis speak, I contemplated time, especially our experience of a time when the need for structural change is so urgent. Davis reminded us of those who do the work we might never know the name of, of the taste of freedom we get through art, and of the gradualness of historical transformation. Her message: Don’t give up the fight.

Björn Lövin, Consumer in Infinity and “Mr P’s Hoard”, 1971, mixed media. Installation view, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2022. Photo: Åsa Lundén.

Björn Lövin (Moderna Museet, Stockholm)
I was struck that I’d never experienced a Swedish artist making art as a Gesamtkunstwerk in relation to Swedish society until I saw this exhibition by Björn Lövin. It felt significant, especially the installation Mr P’s Hoard, 1971, which reconstructs a typical low-income folkhemmet (people’s home) apartment inhabited by Mr. P, his wife, and their two kids. Lövin asked an economist to calculate how much money remained for such a family after the bills were paid. The result was only SEK 441 a year, equivalent to SEK 3,600, or $322, today—proof that income disparities exist even in a fully employed social democracy such as Sweden. Using the remaining funds, presumably dedicated to one’s leisure, Lövin created collages on canvas “authored” by Mr. P. Assembled from shopping bags from the supermarket Konsum (now Coop), these works decorate what would otherwise have been misrecognized as period rooms.

The critical foil of Lövin’s artwork was easy to miss: In the September 11 elections, just before the exhibition closed, the far-right Sweden Democrats—a party with neo-Nazi roots—won 20.5 percent of the vote, giving them the second-highest number of seats in Parliament. At the core of the party’s ideology is conservative nostalgia for the folkhemmet political system. But Mr. P’s work betrays such fantasies. While I was growing up, my Iraqi relatives lived in these low-income housing apartments in a suburb outside Stockholm; in the ’90s, most people who were born in Sweden moved out and the immigrants moved in, isolating these new arrivals in segregated low-income neighborhoods. Mr. P’s Hoard is a history lesson for those today who mistake tragedy for achievement and offer either pity or terror to those who now find themselves in Mr. P’s predicament.

Dustin Hodges, LEP_54, 2021, oil and graphite on linen. Installation view, 15 Orient, Brooklyn, NY.

Dustin Hodges (15 Orient, Brooklyn, New York)
I made the two-hour drive up to New York from Philly, where I live, to check out the Dustin Hodges exhibition “Francine” at 15 Orient. I was excited to finally see his paintings in the flesh, since I had so far only experienced them on-screen. What I found immediately interesting about them was the artist’s recasting of the classic PBS cartoon character and meme signifier Arthur as a vessel for formal and conceptual play. In doing so, he slowed and stymied the rote associations the figure has taken on, perfectly subverting the visual language of memeology. I also found the earthy palette and liminal compositions seductively disarming.